all star

May 14, 2009


K.I.T.!!!

Smash Mouth don’t change

Sarah Bennett
Wed. May 13

Smash Mouth has always been like that guy from high school who never grew up. At first it’s a little weird that he’s stoked to still be bagging groceries at Stater Brothers a decade out, but about halfway through a shared 24-pack in the parking lot before the 10-year reunion dinner, his still-spiked hair and ultra-narrow chin strip become so endearing that it’s futile not to party like it’s 1999.

Reappropriating ’60s mainstream electronica riffs for mid-’90s third-wave ska revival keyboards, Smash Mouth burst onto KIIS FM sister stations and took 1997 by storm. I was barely in middle school then—prime age for Smash Mouth acceptance—and thought “Walking on the Sun” was the mature 6th grader’s answer to Less Than Jake’s “We’re All Dudes.”

After I traded the Good Burger soundtrack for Fush Yu Mang, the San Jose foursome pumped out nearly three years of retro-pop jams that I happily bought into, waiting until the end of the Can’t Hardly Wait VHS for their synchronized prom dancing music video (oh, Steve Harwell’s pink hair days) and voting for “All Star” as my soccer team’s playoff theme song.

Then the second millennium came, and I started high school. And like that hand-me-down cutoff shorts with matching scrunchie set I got from my cousin in South Carolina, Smash Mouth was not helping me look older. So, while I was taking AP classes and having my heart broken by young love, Gwen Stefani stole Harwell’s pink-hair phase, Uncle Kracker became the new round-faced male white singer to watch, and Smash Mouth was left making a Monkees cover for Shrek and redoing a Sherman Brothers song for the should-have-been-straight-to-DVD release of The Jungle Book 2.

But today, the band is no longer the eternal bag boy I once thought. After a Surreal Life appearance, a shelved studio album and several-year hiatus, Smash Mouth left Interscope, started their own record label and self-released 2006’s cover-free Summer Girl. Finally doing things their own way (and returning to the catchy song formulas that made them famous), the “ultimate true-to-life California party band” is riding their own ’90s coattails into post-high school life, bringing their new batch of independence to a headliner spot at this weekend’s Pride Festival, and proving that, unlike scrunchies, nostalgia never goes out of style.

SMASH MOUTH WITH KAT DELUNA, JAZMINE SULLIVAN AND SARA BAREILLES LONG BEACH LESBIAN & GAY PRIDE CELEBRATION | SHORELINE DRIVE BETWEEN PINE AVE AND OCEAN BLVD | 9PM | $20

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